How A CEO Built A Successful Business By Letting His Employees Get Away

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When it comes to business, the typical American mentality is to work as hard as possible if you want to succeed. But Jon Staff, CEO and founder of  Getaway, found that letting his employees take more time off and unplug actually helped create a stronger company. His goal was to help urbanites escape by placing tiny cabins to rent outside major cities across the United States. And he wanted his employees to reap the benefits of his vision too. 

Now, Staff is hoping to spread the word by debuting his first solo book—Getting Away: 75 Everyday Practices for Finding Balance in Our Always-On World. It’s a guide to unplugging and reconnecting with what really matters daily, something especially poignant, as many of us aren’t able to get away. I was able to catch up with the CEO to find his top five ways to be more successful by getting away.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

“The simple act of gratitude is a fairly easy, cost-free way to improve our overall health and wellbeing. Studies show that when people show and express gratitude, they become more patient and forgiving, their relationships improve, they take better care of their bodies through diet and exercise, and they sleep better. Personally, I find that saying something I’m grateful for out loud every morning helps ground me – even the small things. You need that grounding feeling when you’re building a business, as things can (and do) go awry often.”

Spend 30 Minutes Outside Every Day

“I started Getaway in 2015 because I wanted to bring people back to the basics and the simple pleasures in life, like a quiet walk in the woods and a roaring campfire. Through intentional design and guest experience, Getaway circumvents the trend of people always needing to be connected and offers them a chance to disconnect with a convenient, no-hassle escape. Some of my best thinking comes from time spent outside alone. That was where the idea for Getaway began in earnest. I encourage my team to leave their desks and get some fresh air every day, as you never know where – and when – inspiration can hit.”

Take Vacations

“Getaway’s mission to give people the time, space, and permission to be ‘off’ applies to our employees, too. I’m committed to helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Thus one of the requirements for our full-time staff is taking 20 vacation days a year. If they don’t, it comes up in their performance review. Most Americans don’t take all of their vacation days, which is a shame, so they miss out on opportunities to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Taking the days I need, and encouraging my team to do the same, has allowed me to recharge, which ultimately betters the business.”

Observe a Digital Sabbath

“Taking days off that are free from technological distractions helps people be more creative, happier, and healthier. We try to make this easier by offering what we call “Getadays” throughout the year, which means all full-time employees get the first Friday of the month off. This summer, we’ve expanded Getadays to two Fridays a month to give people time to disconnect and spend on themselves and their families completely. Most of the company has the same day off, which means we aren’t distracted with emails and Slack messages while we’re all trying to disconnect. While employees can spend these days how they best see fit, they are encouraged to experiment with the digital Sabbath idea and be totally disconnected for the Getaday.”

Carry a Book Wherever You Go

“I’m a firm believer in reading whatever you enjoy reading. As a kid, and even into early adulthood, I struggled to read much because I felt pressure to read certain books. I finally admitted to myself that I should just read what I enjoy – and that it’s okay to ditch a book a couple of chapters in without declaring a failure. I find that rooting myself back to the small things that bring me joy and serenity during off time, like reading a book, replenishes my focus, and set me up to combat burnout.”



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